Short Story Competition
RPGX Short Story Contest #46 - December 2013
Submissions & Details Thread
Open to everyone. Please post your entries as replies to this post. At the deadline I will gather all entries and put them forward for voting in a separate thread. The winner of each month's contest will, in turn, choose the topic for the following month's contest.
Genre: Any Fiction
Topic: Winter Solstice (Any Interpretation or Rephrasal Valid)
Challenge: Somewhere in your story include:
Suggested Word Limit: 500 - 3000 words.
Deadline for entries: January 1st, 2014
There is a maximum of 16 entries total in this contest. If there are more than 16 entries in any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme. This will not necessarily be on a first come, first serve basis.
When posting your story, please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story. And please remember to include your name/username!
If there are any questions, please PM Aethera or use the Coffee Shop. Please do not clog up this thread with questions or comments. This thread is for submissions only.
As of August 1st, 2012 the competition threads are being moderated by the story fairy Aethera. I (Aethera) have no offsite contact with Klazzform, but I'll keep things going.
Thanks and good luck!
Stop by and visit the DnDOG Short Story Competition in the Library. Show your support by voting for the story of the month!
Last edited by Aethera; 11-02-2013 at 01:59 PM.
This is an example of how your submissions should be formatted before posting them for review.
One Last Time by Klazzform [2,329 Words]
He sat in his tent, sheathed in sweat and steel. His squire had left a few moments earlier to ready his horse for the competition. The smell of polished steel hung thick inside the humid canvas dwelling, but he did not seem to notice it as he sat, head down, elbows resting on his knees with hands clasped together in front of him.
“One more time.” He told himself. “Just one more time and you can leave it all behind. Kaolin and the boys can live the lives they deserve and I can sit on the porch and watch the corn grow in the fields.”
Outside the crowd roared as someone took a fall or gained the upper hand on his opponent. Thoughts of his family drifted through his mind as he prayed for the strength to triumph once more. He was getting up in age, nearing his mid forties, and competing against men half his age. The new techniques applied to the art kept him on his toes, but nothing could save him from his failing reflexes. Experience maybe, and pure determination, but even those two things would only take a man so far. Sooner or later there was always someone just a bit faster and just a bit more cunning.
He had been the court favorite for two decades, ever since winning the joust in the Winter Fields Tourney where he had met his wife, Kaolin. He had seen her in the stands there, and as any young knight would have done, he rode over two her and asked her to favor him with a trinket of her support. She had blushed at his attention and if he had not been in love with her before, he fell for her then. He rode the entire tourney with her scarf tied to his arm and he had gone undefeated.
They had been married soon after. The king at that time had awarded him a small piece of land, and with some of the gold he had already managed to squirrel away, they built a small house on top of a hill and lived happily ever after. His first son was born a year later and Kaolin had insisted that he bear his fathers name. It was the proudest moment of his life and even to this day he cannot think of a fonder memory, unless it was the birth of his second son, Tampson.
Both of the boys were home now, taking care of their mother. Cordan was twenty and Tampson was fifteen. He had seen to it that they stayed out of the family business only with threats of physical harm and bribes. Still it had been a hard thing to do, for what man would not aspire to ride gallantly into battle with king and country looking on and cheering his name? It was only after Kaolin had stepped in and put her foot down as well, that Cordan had agreed to go to school and learn the law. He was now working at court, arguing cases with skill that was known throughout the land. He still came home, though, when his father was away and tended to his mother and the farm.
Tampson was the easier of the two, and although he also shared the knightly gene, he had a more scientific mind. He could often be found out in the fields, staring intently at an insect or a plant and cataloging specifics about them in, what now amounted to, a library of notebooks. He would be a great one, Cordan knew. Such men changed the world in which they lived in and he looked forward to the day when his sons name was spoken by the masses.
Outside the tent the crowd was working itself into a frenzy. He knew the two knights who were now battling in the ring. They were good men and nothing serious should befall either of them, but accidents did happen even in this day and time. He had seen more than his share of blood shed in two decades to last him the rest of his life. While the crowd thought of the tourneys as mock battle, the steel was still real and you had to be a little bit insane to ride against another man in the lists. Cordan himself had been struck unconscious on more than one occasion and had the scars of a hundred battles to prove his metal. He had also killed in a man with a lance when he had been young and foolish. It was deemed an accident at the time, and well it had been, but looking back on it with the experience that he now possessed, he knew that things could have gone differently that day.
His squire appeared at the door. He was a young lad, not much older than Tampson.
“Their almost through, Sire.” He said. His face was flushed with the excitement of youth…and ignorance. One day he will learn, Cordan thought. “Sir Flagon has dismounted Sir Lacier and they’re going at it with the blades now! I don’t think Sir Lacier is going to last much longer, Sire. When he was dismounted it was with a wicked blow and he still seems off his guard.”
Grunting with the effort, Sir Cordan rose from his bench and picked up his helmet. “Then shall we see how it plays out?” He did not enjoy dampening the youngsters spirits and indulged his youthful ignorance whenever possible.
“Aye, Sire!” The boy was practically chomping at the bit. “I have General Kenzy saddled and ready to go. He’s right outside…and with a mean look in his eye I might add.”
Cordan smiled. “Then run along and see that you don’t get into too much trouble. And keep yourself handy when it is our turn.”
“Yes Sire!” The boy dashed off so quickly that he left behind a trail of dust.
With one last thought to his family, Cordan stepped from the tent and out into the tourney grounds. All around him were other tents, all of different colors and all flying the flags of the knights that were sponsored within them. In front of the tents was a long arena where hundreds of people were seated, screaming like lunatics and enjoying every minute of it.
Taking General Kenzy’s reigns he led the massive horse around to the starting position where several other knights were standing, watching the battle that was unfolding on the floor of the arena. Sir Flagon did indeed appear to be holding the upper hand as he repeatedly pounded Lacier across the heavy armor that incased his shoulders. Lacier appeared to be badly winded and a giant dint marred the surface of his chest plate. His face was deep red and he was sweating profusely as he attempted to ward off the other knights blows.
Cordan had seen it before. The knights armor was inhibiting his breathing. The dint that had been put there by the blow of a lance was exerting pressure on the mans ribcage and was not allowing him to take a full, deep breath. As he watched Flagon moved in fast, feigning a blow to Lacier’s head and when the knight went to block it, Flagon hooked an armored boot around the back of Lacier’s knee and brought the man to his knees in a cloud of dust.
The roar of the crowd was too loud to hear anything, but Cordan saw Sir Flagon’s lips move as he asked for a yield and Lacier tossed his sword down into the dust. Reaching down to his defeated opponent, Sir Flagon lifted him from the ground and raised both of their fists into the air. The crowd went wild and even Cordan applauded the sportsmanship of the move.
Now there would be a pause as the crowd settled down and the arena was cleared. Several of the knights that had been standing with Cordan clapped him on the shoulders, wishing him luck. Mounting General Kenzy, Cordan placed his helmet on his head and adjusted the leather straps. Looking around he was pleased to see his squire was already there with his lance and he took it from the boy, winking at him through the eye slits.
One more time, he thought and rode out into the arena with his wife’s scarf tied to his arm. The crowd, who had quieted down to a dull murmur, erupted at the sight of their favorite as he made his way into the arena He did a slow circuit around the ring not even bothering to lead the General. The horse knew the way and Cordan would have bet the homestead that the animal loved it even more than fresh oats and young mares. When he came to where the royalty was seated he doffed his faceguard and bowed in the saddle. The king and queen bowed back to him while the princess, with her ladies in waiting, giggled behind concealing hands and blushing cheeks.
His fans appeased and the royalty seated he rode his steed to the starting area and faced his opponent. The list field was nothing more than a circular dirt track about fifty yards long with a wooden fence about four feet high erected down the center. Each opponent started with their shielded right arm closest to the divider and their lances in their left hand. The lances were long, wooden poles, about twelve feet in length and made of soft wood that broke on impact. They were tipped with a blunt end which, in turn, was covered by a small bag of sand. When charging an opponent the lance was crossed across the body and tucked into the pit of the left arm. The object, of course, was to dismount or equally disable your opponent by striking him with the tip of the lance. Once this was accomplished, if the dismounted party did not yield then and there, then both men met on the field to let their blades finish the dispute.
Cordan’s opponent was a knight, newly dubbed by the same king who was now seated in the stands. Cordan did not know him, but he knew the type and unless he was far off his mark, the boy would be out to make a name for himself. It was going to be brutal. Lowering his faceguard, he raised his lance in a salute and the man across the field from him did the same, signaling his readiness.
“Lets do it boy!” Cordan hissed and the General leapt from the starting position, charging like beast of half his years across the field to meet his foe.
When they met in the middle both men scored hits, their lances shattering against the other mans shield. Cordan was staggered and almost went out of his saddle, but managed to hang on and circle around to the starting position again.
His squire was waiting with a fresh lance and he took it from him with some small effort, his ribcage protesting loudly. Once more they charged and once more they struck. This time it was the young knights turn to feel the power of the blow as he was knocked back onto his mounts flanks and barely managed to hang on. He rode back to his starting position clutching his chest and glancing warily at Cordan.
It was on the third charge that disaster struck. Whether it was a faulty lance, or perhaps the young knight wanted the title more than Cordan had believed, no one could tell, but when they met in the center once more and their lances struck, the young knight’s did not break properly. Instead it flexed like a bow, exerting enormous pressure on both riders and when it finally broke it sounded like a cannon shot. The forward piece flew off into the crowd, knocking a spectator unconscious, and the jagged end, angled sharply upward pierced Cordan’s chest plate and embedded in his lung.
He was laying on his back in a cloud of dust. The crowd was screaming and he tasted blood. Get up, he told himself, but something felt wrong and when he tried to rise, his fellow knights were all around, holding him down. One of them removed his helmet and he saw the jagged piece of wood sticking out of his chest. He knew then that this was indeed his last tourney.
He coughed and felt blood rising in his throat. Someone called for a physician and one came, but he only shook his head and made discouraging sounds. The crowd was silent for once and he gestured to his squire who was standing back from it all with an ashen face. When the boy came he knelt by his lord in the dust and Cordan could see tears in his eyes.
“No tears for me boy.” He said, clasping the youngsters hand in his own. “You’ve been a good lad and I’ll not have you wasting tears on some old fool that didn’t know when to quit.” He smiled. “There’s a chest in the tent and a key in my pocket. Take the contents to my family and tell them that I love them. Take a bit for yourself as well, or stay on with them if you like. You couldn’t do any better, I can promise you that.”
The darkness was falling now. He knew it for what it was and he did not fear it. Only sadness pierced his thoughts at the end and as his life flashed before him in the last moment, it was Kaolin who was there at the last.
The squire rose to his feet when the old knight was gone and walked to the tent. Opening the chest he withdrew the gold that he knew was there and loaded it onto General Kenzy. Without looking back they walked away to a far off place and a house on a hill.
Stop by and visit the DnDOG Short Story Competition in the Library. Show your support by voting for the story of the month!
Last edited by Aethera; 11-02-2013 at 01:52 PM.